Friday, 19 March 2010
Sweden's Klas Eriksson completed his first victory in eight years when he won the Talma Finnish Challenge near Helsinki. And the 30 year old did it in style, equalling the course record of 65 for a 16 under par tally of 272, finishing four strokes clear of Londoner Gary Clark, and five ahead of Alberto Binaghi from Italy and Dutchman Neils Kraaij.

It was back in 1993 that Eriksson last landed a European Challenge Tour title. That same year he won three times and finished top of the rankings to secure his card on the regular tour.

He kept it until 1999 since when he has laboured on the Challenge Tour without much success until this week. "When you don't win for so long you begin to think what you are doing wrong," he said.

He did a lot right this week, keeping a bogey off his card over the final two rounds and reeling in 12 birdies. "I'm thrilled to win again and hopefully I'll be back on the European Tour next year."

But while Eriksson celebrated it was another disappointment for Clark. The 30 year old Englishman from London has now had five top-10 finishes this year but a win has always eluded his grasp. "Klas was too good for me today," he said after being paired with Eriksson in the final match and starting a shot adrift.

"We both got off to fliers but the turning point was the 7th and 8th holes. I bogeyed the 7th, which he parred, then at eight, he birdied while I missed mine and the race was as good as over."

Also crucial was Clark's birdie-three at the last which not only saw him secure second place on his own, but the £10,325 cheque takes him into fourth place on the rankings and secures his European Tour card for next year.

At the same time it denied Binaghi, who bogeyed the last for 68 to drop back into a tie for third with Kraay, who also birdied the 18th for 68.

Per Larsson, bogeyed the final hole for the second successive day but still returned 68, which saw him fill fifth place on his own, while fellow Swede, Marten Olander, was sixth after a second successive 70.

Simon Khan from England and Spanish-based Miles Tunnicliff finished equal seventh on 280, Khan with 69 while Tunnicliff matched Eriksson's 65 with eight birdies. On the same mark was the leading Finn, Pasi Purhonen, who closed with a bogey-free 66.

It was a good day for the Finns. Beside Purhonen, Tuomas Tuovinen finished with 67 and 282 to take the leading amateur award, while the two other amateurs who made the cut, Thomas Sundstrom finished with 71 and Toni Karjalainen 73, making the Finnish contingent 11 under overall on the day.

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